Bishop Timothy Whitaker

January 18, 2019

Bishop Extols Pro-Life Message in Capitol Hill Methodist Building

As marchers outside joined the annual March for Life to the Supreme Court, retired Bishop Timothy Whitaker extolled Christian pro-life teaching at the annual Lifewatch service at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Building.

“This march is more than a protest against destroying the lives of unborn children,” Whitaker said. “It is a festival for celebrating the gift of life and for remembering that every human being who is conceived is irreplaceable and deserves protection by the state and carte from his or her community.”

Whitaker was introduced by United Methodist pastor Paul Stallsworth, who heads Lifewatch, the church’s unofficial pro-life caucus. He noted his group’s frequent disagreement with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, owner of the United Methodist Building. But he also appreciatively introduced that board’s general secretary, Susan Henry Crowe, who briefly shared her agency’s greetings.

United Methodism’s official lobby agency has historically defended abortion rights even as the denomination is heading in a pro-life direction, revoking its previous support for Roe v. Wade in 2016.

Whitaker was perhaps the first United Methodist bishop in recent decades to articulate pro-life advocacy when he addressed Lifewatch in 2005. This year he again spoke unequivocally.

“Being a member of the church entails confessing certain beliefs and practicing certain behaviors, which explains Christians’ revulsion against abortion and our public witness for life.” Whitaker said. “What makes the church stand out is that it defines itself as something different from the rest of the world, and that is why the church is loved by many as well as hated by may.”

Whitaker noted “there are people who are powerfully attracted to the church when the church offers them an alternative way of living in the world,” offering itself as “place of liberation and hope for those aspiring to live a more noble existence.” In a culture where lives are “degraded by the sexual revolution, which includes an affirmation of the moral horror of abortion,” the church “must run counter to culture rather than cozy up to culture.”

Describing the March for Life as part of St. Peter’s calling to proclaim the “mighty acts of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light,” Whitaker said God is the “source of life of all humankind” and wills that “everyone come to know the fullness of life which God intends, including the unborn.”

Whitaker warned of a “profound error” to think the church may have different doctrines and disciplines in different places and times, as Christian teaching has always been “transcultural.” The example of the early church is instructive, he said, citing opposition to abortion by Clement of Alexandria, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and Origen. The Didache of the early church warned “you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor kill that which is begotten.” The Apostles taught both doctrine and discipline because the “truth that has been revealed to us is always a way and a life.”

Citing United Methodism’s current debate over sexuality, Whitaker said many church members are “desperate” to remain the “religion of the culture” and urge the church to adapt to the “values of the culture.” But the church cannot remain the church unless it is “continuous with the proclamation and tradition of the apostles.” In a post-Christendom era the church can no longer align with culture and must instead return to the countercultural example of the early church, as a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

Video of Whitaker’s sermon and the rest of the Lifewatch service can be seen here.


 

9 Responses to Bishop Extols Pro-Life Message in Capitol Hill Methodist Building

  1. Tim says:

    Quote:
    “Citing United Methodism’s current debate over sexuality, Whitaker said many church members are “desperate” to remain the “religion of the culture” and urge the church to adapt to the “values of the culture.” But the church cannot remain the church unless it is “continuous with the proclamation and tradition of the apostles.” In a post-Christendom era the church can no longer align with culture and must instead return to the countercultural example of the early church, as a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

    Well said!

  2. Ronald says:

    We must stand firm for truth.

  3. Lance Thomas says:

    Thank you Bishop Whitaker! UMC needs your leadership today.

  4. betsy says:

    Excellent understanding of the church!

  5. betsy says:

    Excellent understanding of the church and its relationship to society. Every other mainline Protestant denomination has already proven that people do not respond to churches that are simply a reflection of the current culture. Why so many Bishops remain blind to that reality is beyond my comprehension

  6. William says:

    Thank God for our real bishops like Timothy Whitaker. Please, please — we so desperately need you now. Unfortunately, too many of them seem to have been virtually silenced or marginalized by the liberal forces in the denomination. Our UMC liberal bishops pushing this ‘one’ church plan seem alien to those across the denomination who found Jesus through repentance, forgiveness of sin, conversion, salvation, and the consequent transformed lives in Him away from sin. And, those lay members certainly appear to be alien to these liberal bishops who do not seem to understand grace – especially justifying grace and the absolute requirement of that in order to become a disciple of Jesus. They seem to believe that membership in the church through profession of faith has little or nothing to do with repentance, that salvation is more universal than personal, that the individual has the authority to define sin, to decide which sins named in Scripture to believe or not, and that confronting personal sin is not an essential component of salvation. Many, many of our UMC repentant, saved, and transformed laity are so much more better qualified to be leading our church than these people. How these liberal bishops got their positions seem to defy what is Christian or what makes up a Christian church. They certainly didn’t get there by virtue of their spiritual leadership, their witness, their exemplary preaching, their evangelistic leadership/modeling resulting in church growth in their conferences through professions of faith and conversions — the attributes Wesley expected of his preachers. This whole process of bishop appointment in the UMC appears to be seriously flawed, highly political, much too secretive, too much CEO characterized, and too much career/vocational advancement driven than the “calling to ministry” driven.

  7. Pudentiana says:

    We are so blessed to have Bishop Whitaker and other United Methodist leaders who stand for the sanctity of life. Instead of using the bully pulpit of the Board of Church and Society and its huge building to promote abortion on demand, the Church should be providing shelter and support for women who have found themselves “with child” or with children in the oppressive state of domestic abuse. When a woman has no where to turn and the laws do not protect her and her children, then abortion becomes a solution to an insurmountable problem, no matter how guilty they feel. The focus of the Church and Society Board is actually anti-christian and I hope God pulls their red carpet out from under their feet very soon.

  8. I believe this movement totally unknown to me until now..is an answer to prayer. Since I first learned of “The Way Forward”.. I have lost faith in the church leaders. For over 35 years as a member of a UMC I have recently become sickened by this and have stayed away from my church. As I told a friend , I have had a crisis of “Church”..not a crisis of my faith. Indeed I will never lose my faith. It is stronger now, than when this turning away from our traditional Scriptural teachings began three years ago. I began to see liberal leanings appearing in our Sunday School Adult UMC literature, our UMWomen’s literature and most surely in our pastoral sermons. I welcome this Wesleyan Covenant movement with open arms and pray it becomes the Christian conservative’s answer to the current liberal leaders anti scriptural message!
    God bless and strengthen this movement!

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